I doodle when I’m talking to an editor or author about their thoughts for the book I’m about to work on. Don’t worry I multi task, doodling is my form of note taking and I’ll sketch down ideas whilst I chat to get a feel for the world that’s about to be created.
When I get down to starting the project, reading and understanding what the story is about is key to doing the illustrations. Taking note of the important details is the first step in creating the illustrations. Understanding the inferences made allows me to expand on the precise words laid down in the story and gives me a range of other things I can illustrate into the scenes and characters to create a place. Going through this detailed first read helps me create narrative illustrations that will draw the reader’s focus.
I’ll come up with the character design illustrations first, either little pencil sketches that I develop sometimes over several drafts, or quick designs I can capture straight away. At this stage the visual tone of the book is being developed via the character illustrations. My conceptual artworks are emailed to the editor/author for feedback and comments.
The main protagonist is usually the entry point for the reader, a character the audience can immediately identify with and start to get to know. While you want the audience to identify strongly with this character the illustration doesn’t have to be of a ‘conventional hero’ even if the book is about a multi legged monster there has to be something that humanizes the design in some way that lets you feel for them.
In The White Arrow Assassin by Tim Flanagan, Lawrence Pinkley a detective is the main guy in the story, he’s a lanky, slightly awkward looking teenage, who has not fully grown into his skin yet. He often jumps to the wrong conclusions but is noble and wants to follow on from his father’s footsteps. He’s the straight man unaware of the silly goings on around him.